Nellie Andreeva

The third season premiere of FX’s Sons of Anarchy last night drew 4.13 million million viewers, 2.81 million of them in the adults 18-49 demographic. That is a strong start though not a record for the biker drama and was down 4% in total viewers and 7% from last year’s second season premiere. In fact, last night’s Season 3 debut ranks as the third most-watched episode of Sons, behind the season 2 premiere and season 2 finale. But it also ranks as the highest-rated scripted basic cable telecast this year in 18-49.

Another third season opener, that of A&E’s unscripted series Hoarders, broke records for the network on Labor Day. The two back-to-back episodes (3.7 million viewers, 2.0 million adults 18-49; 3.8 million, 2.1 million 18-49) became the two most-watched episodes in A&E series history across all key demographics and ranked as the highest-rated season debut for any original series on A&E.

Airing against the season premiere of Sons, USA Network’s freshman Covert Affairs (5.4 million, 2.1 million 18-49) was up from last week, 2% in total viewers and 6% in 18-49. Its lead-in, the Season 2 summer finale of White Collar (4.7 million, 1.8 million 18-49) drew its largest audience since the winter debut.

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